Spring and sourdough

The warm weather absolutely makes a difference in the sourdough starter and the loaf.

Here is one of my finest loaves 🙂

 

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carrot jam :)

I did not even think that it was possible or tasty, but I was wrong. Carrot jam is must to try 🙂

I was looking for an interesting jam/marmalade to try and it was the carrot jam that intrigued me. Thanking bloggers out there who have posted their recipes. I improvised my recipe and I am very pleased with the end result.

Addition of orange to this jam kind of masks the “veggie” smell/taste of carrot. Next time  I want to try it with some nuts, like walnut, for a much tastier and crunchier version.

Ingredients:

  • 8 mid-size carrots
  • 1 extra large orange
  • 1.5 lemon
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbs salt

Recipe:

  • peel the carrots and cut in thin stripes – julienne (my new mandolin slicer did not work out well, what a waste of money, so I cut them using a knife)
  • peel the orange, scrap off the white coat, piece and add to carrots
  • add 4 cups of sugar, mix, and let stand for 1-2 hours (continue to mix it every once a while – it should get juicy at the end of the waiting period)
  • add water and salt, and bring to a rolling boil, continue to boil for 30 min at medium heat
  • add the orange peels (once the orange is peeled, put the peels in 1/4 vinegar/water mix, let stand for 30 min, scrap off the white coat, and slice thinly) and 10 tbs of lemon juice
  • boil for another 25-30 min, until it reduces to 1/3 of the initial volume and thickens
  • pour down the sterilized jars, close the lids, and rings.
  • Water or pressure can for long-term preservation. If not, keep it in the fridge and consume within weeks.

Bon appetite!

pickled egg and parsnip & carrot pickle, and easy lazy peasy pasta trials

I have been meaning to try a new pickle recipe and decided to try pickled eggs 🙂

After a search on the internet, I improvised the following recipe:

  • 10 hard boiled egg, peeled and placed in a clean jar. Add a pinch of saffron and around an inch of cinnamon stick (do not ask me why I added this 🙂 I think I wanted some sweet fragrance in it). Saffron gives a bright yellowish colour to it, which I loved 🙂
  • brine: 2 cups of white vinegar, 3 cups of water, 1 tbs of salt, 1 tbs of sugar: boiled for 5 min or so
  • Pour down the brine in the jar (leave around an inch of space at the top), close the lid and rings. 

They say we should wait a few days, if not a week, but I am leaving it to you to try 🙂

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Since my brine was more than what the pickled egg jar would take, I decided to try parsnip and carrot pickle. I sliced 3 small parsnip and one mid-size carrot, boiled in the brine for 2 min or so, added 3 grated garlic and 1 tsp of chili pepper in a jar – cannot wait to try this one. My first parsnip pickle trial 🙂 As you can see my brine was too much, but I will take it 🙂

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The other day I tried some kind of soft and large pasta.

I added 3 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs salt (use less – mine was too salty), 1 tbs of baking powder, and 1 egg,  and formed a shaggy dough.

I then let it rest for an hour at room temperature. After that, I did knead it for a minute or so (it comes around pretty neatly) and rolled using a rolling pin at a desired thickness, cut in stripes, cooked in boiling water for 5-6 minutes, and took aside.

On a hot frying pan, I added vegetable oil,  black bean and soya sauce, let boil for one or two minutes, added the cooked pasta, and mixed for a few minutes.

It was soft and very tasty 🙂

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Sunday sourdough

I was trying to find the ways to reduce the proofing time lately: one thing I have tried in the last two weeks is proofing the dough in an oven (not turned or warmed up; no lights , either) to see whether this relatively temperature-wise stable environment would help reduce it. 

This dough was only proved for 3 hours (in contrast to my usual 4-6 hours proofing). It was almost flat when I placed it on the parchment paper and scored. But there was a great oven spring (just like last week), so it turned out to be just lovely.

I think the in-oven proofing helped. I also think that maybe in the past I was over-proofing my dough..

Of course, the hydration levels of the dough makes a difference in terms of the yeast activity – this was a slightly sticky dough. This may be another reason for the short proof time working with this loaf.

In any way, I am just happy to have this loaf 🙂

 

happy sourdough – III

 

IMG_3460Isn’t it beautiful 🙂

This was the first time that I tried 3 hours of proofing. When I took it out of the shaping bowl and scored, the dough was almost flat. But in the oven it showed a great oven spring and one of the largest air pockets I have ever seen. It even cracked itself on top even though I had slashed it, which tells me that yeast really worked hard this time.

Will continue like this – it has been a great experiment.

clementine preserve

Yours truly tried yet another food preservation attempt, this time using whole clementines.

The recipe is inspired from a recipe of my mom.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 clementine
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3.5 tbs of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt

 

recipe

  • wash the clementines and remove the stalk at the bottom
  • insert knife in 8-10 places throughout the clementines
  • add sugar and water, mix, and wait for 50 min
  • put on the stove and cook at medium heat for 70 min

      *at this point clementines should be softened and if you press lightly they should feel plump

  • add the salt and lemon juice and boil for another 30 min
  • pour in sterilized jars, close the lids, and rings. Makes 1 x 750 ml preserve
  • water or pressure can if you wish. I do not do either of this. So they will be kept at the fridge and consumed within weeks

Bon appetite! 🙂

butternut squash dessert and weekly sourdough bread

Butternut squash dessert

I found a nice butternut squash the week before. My original aim was to make a hearty soup, but I decided in the last moment to make a dessert with it.

here is the recipe:

  • peel the coating and cut in pieces (mine were around 1-5 cm width and 7 cm length)
  • add 2 cups of sugar, mix
  • add 1.5 tsp salt and 6 cups of water
  • bring to a rolling boil and simmer at medium heat for 40 min
  • add 1.5 tbs lemon juice and boil for another 5 min
  • take the squash bits on an oven pot, add 2 cups of the liquid*, sprinkle with chopped nuts (I have used hazelnut) (optional)
  • bake at 350F pre-heated oven for 20 min**
  • enjoy! (top with a scoop of ice cream if you wish and tell me this was not a good idea 🙂 )

*I have had around 1 liters of the liquid, which is yummy. Drink it as it is, or use less water 

**You can bake longer to thicken the liquid

Sourdough

My sourdough today was kind of sticky dough and as a result did not keep it shape well. But there was oven spring and it looks great 🙂

radish pickle with jalapenos and mis-fortune of a strawberry marmalade trial

I wanted to cheer myself up with two new recipes; radish pickle and frozen strawberry marmalade.

It turns out I bought extra packs of radish, so why not to try pickling it? An adventure for me and a chance of limiting food waste. I think it will turn out to be right.

Frozen strawberry marmalade, on the other hand, turned to the dark side right at the end. I decided I could boil the jars to help preserve them. I was wrong – the pot was not deep enough. Then, I turned them upside down to sterilize at least the neck of the jars, and one or two of the jars leaked somehow. Goodness help me…..I aborted the attempt. Sadly, these marmalade will go to garbage now. Nevertheless, I am posting the recipe here because there was a 1/4 cup of the marmalade I had in a jar that I did not attempt to water-can and it is delicious. At least I have got 1/4 cup of it!!! 🙂

Radish pickle

  • 600 gr radish; washed and diced as thinly as possible
  • 2 jalapeno pepper, washed, and diced with the seeds
  • 5 garlic, grated
  • 1tbs+1tsp sugar
  • 1tbs+1tsp salt
  • 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups water-boiled

Boil the brine (vinegar and water); add sugar and salt – mix

place the diced radish, jalapenos, grated garlic in clean jars (mine were 750 ml jars; it made 2 jars)

add 2 cups of brine or as much as the jar can take

close the lid and secure the rings. Must be ready in a week or so

*added the next day: as being a pickle person, I could not help and try this pickle the next day. To my surprise it was ready and it was hot – thanks to jalapenos. If you are looking for a quick type of pickle, this is a must to try 🙂

 

Frozen strawberry marmalade

  • 1.5 kg of frozen strawberry
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1.5 lemon (9 tbs)

place the strawberry on a container and mix with the sugar; wait for 1 hour util strawberry starts to release its juice, mix every once a while

add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil at medium heat (takes around 15 min)

boil for 15 min and then lower the heat to medium and boil an additional 30 min. It must reduce at the end

remove the scum and pour down the marmalade in sterilized jars (I boiled them for 15 min together with the rings. Lids were placed in hot water); leave around 1/2 inch room

clean the rims of the jars, place the lids, and secure the rings.

if you can pressure-can or water-can, you can keep these for some time. But if you are like me and cannot do this for some reason, then keep it as it is at the fridge and consume within weeks.

 

 

I hope you will be able to enjoy these recipes! 🙂

 

 

sourdough loaf with oats and black olives

Here is a fantastic sourdough with a hint of trolled oats and black olives 🙂

This loaf was my first trial of a rectangular shape 🙂 I learnt a while ago that sticky dough do not keep its shape well if does not have enough support. So I used one of my oven pots to prove and bake this loaf.

I would do this loaf again; the crust was thin and soft (the way I love it) and it tasted amazing!

The recipe is similar to others:

  • 1 1/3 cup 100% whole wheat starter (fed Friday night and then on Saturday morning prior to saving half in the fridge; used to make the dough in the afternoon)
  • 2 cups water; mixed the starter and water well with the help of a fork until it became kind of frothy
  • 2.5 tbs sugar; mixed well into the starter/water mix
  • 4.5 cups of bread flour, 1.5 tbs salt, and 200 grms of pitted black olive-halved: (approximately 1.5 cups). Formed a shaggy dough, closed the lid, kneaded every 30 min or so three times until dough looked like forming. At the end of folding stage dough was too sticky (must be the olives’ juice), so I added 1/3 cup of rolled oats to help with the moisture
  • let rest at room temperature over might
  • since it was a kind of sticky dough, I decided to place it in a large rectangular oven pot lined with parchment paper
  • sprinkled top with more oats, placed in a nylon bag, tied the ends, and proved for 4.5 hours at room temperature
  • baked in non-pre-heated oven at 350 F for one hour

happy sourdough loaf – II

Today’s sourdough loaf has turned out to be another happy one with a great oven spring and happy smile 🙂

raspberry marmalade

 

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look at this colour. I dare you – look at it! 🙂 doesn’t this look fantastic?

Yours truly continues to explore the world of jamming!

I wanted to try berry jam this time and found raspberries on sale the other day – how lucky I am?

Part inspired from others on the internet, part improvised, here is my frozen raspberry marmalade recipe 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 kg frozen raspberries (around 9 cups)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • juice of one lemon (8 tbs)
  • zest of a lemon

Recipe

  • Place the raspberries on a pot, cover with sugar, give a quick mix and let stand an hour or so
  • In the meantime, clean the jars. I used the dish washer and then placed them and the rings at pre-heated oven (220F) for 15 min. I pat-dried the lids using clean paper towel and set aside
  • At the end of one hour of resting, add the zest and lemon juice and bring the mix to boil on medium heat (takes around 10 min)
  • Continue to boil for 15 min until it reduces to half (make sure to mix to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot)
  • Pour in jars, clean the rims, place the lids, and close the rings (makes one liter of jam)
  • Water- or pressure-can if you would like to keep them for a long time (like a year), otherwise keep at the fridge and consume in 3-4 weeks
  • PS. The recipes I have seen usually calls for equal cups of raspberry and sugar – I used 50% less this time and to me it is perfect. Adjust the sugar levels as you like.

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

corn flour bread

I literally craved for this since yesterday 🙂

I followed the recipe here with the exception of baking at 350F for 40 min, adding 2 jalapeno peppers (de-seeded and cut), and using corn flour (fine).

My verdict is that it is an easy and delicious bread that can be readied in an hour.

It was a little bit sweet for a bread, but it was not annoying. I would maybe add some more sugar next time to make it like a cake 🙂

Jalapenos could have been lightly cooked prior to adding to the mix, but overall that was one great bake today! 🙂

 

 

Tangerine jam

My jam-making saga continues!

I tried tangerine jam this weekend – my first ever trial with this citrus fruit and the third ever jam trial (previous ones were fig and orange jams).

Ingredients

  • 12 tangerines
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tbs of salt
  • juice of 3/4 lemon (8 tbs)
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 2.5 cups of peel (of 13 tangerine)

Recipe

  • Peel the tangerines, remove the white coat and seeds (there was no seeds in these tangerines, which is a great help) 
  • Add sugar, give a mix, and put aside for 1 .5 hours; mix every once a while
  • Immediately put the peels in a vinegar-water. At around 45 min after I added sugar to tangerines, I took them out one by one and scraped with the help of a knife. I then placed them in the vinegar water until use. Immersing them into liquid helps with swelling of the white coat. Vinegar helps with killing any microorganisms. Right before putting the jam on stove, slice the peels thinly.
  • At the end of 1.5 hours, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a “rolling boil”
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 min until it is reduced. Mix through the end to make sure jam will not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Clean the jars, rings, and lids. I placed them (except the lids) at 220F oven for 45 min. I dried the lids on a clean piece of paper towel.
  • Pour down the jam right away in jars, clean the rims, and close the lids. Makes jam enough for 2 x 500 ml mason jar
  • Keep in the fridge and enjoy within weeks (or try water or pressure canning for a longer time period)

Bon appetite!

PS; peels give a bitter taste to jam if the sugar content is not high enough. feel free not to use them. I love rinds because of their texture giving a lovely contrast 🙂

 

 

 

Orange jam

Here is my second ever jam trial and first ever orange jam 🙂

I was mostly inspired by the recipe here, with minor changes.

Ingredients

  • 7 mid-big size oranges and 2 navel oranges (I decided to add these later and they were what I have had extra) – total around 3 pounds of oranges (including the peel)
  • 3 1/4 cups of sugar
  • Juice of one navel orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around 6 tbs)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced orange peel

 

Recipe

  • Wash the oranges, peel, and remove the white coat as much as possible (also the seeds)
  • Piece the oranges as you please; I have used my hand to have around 2 cms of pieces
  • Pour over the sugar, mix, and put aside for 2 hours. Mix with a spoon every 30 min

Peels:

Put the peels on vinegar-water. After 1 hour or so, take out the peels and remove the white coat as much as possible. I found that putting the peels in water helps remove it with the help of a knife. It is not an easy task, but doable. After that, place the peels on a cutting board with inside up and use the knife the scrap the coat – it is surprisingly easy this way.

  • Cut thinly and put aside
  • At the end of 2 hours, add all ingredients except the peels and bring to a vigorous boil, continue to simmer at medium heat for 45 min – it should be reduced a little bit
  • Add the peels, continue to simmer at medium heat for another 30 min. Mix every few minutes
  • Cool down and pour into the jars, close the lid and the ring.
  • Makes 2 x 500 ml jam

Jars:

I washed the jars, rings, and lids in washing machine. Then placed in an oven at 220F for around 40 min in order to kind of sterilize

Verdict: It was somehow too sweet for me, so feel free to use less sugar, but otherwise, yummy :). I love the peels making a contrast with soft orange. I did not water or pressure canned it, so preserve it in the fridge and consume within weeks.

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

Dried Turkish fig jam with sesame seeds

And I present you my first ever fig jam’s recipe 🙂

One of my friends gifted me with 2-pounds of dried Turkish fig a couple of months ago – yum yum yum 🙂 I have been meaning to make jam with it and today was that day, my friends!

I have been inspired by many recipes on the internet, this one and this one particularly. I combined the general recipe of the first one (without the vanilla stuff) and the sesame seeds of the other, and voila here is my first ever dried fig jam!

Recipe

  • Wash briefly 2 pounds of dried Turkish figs (64 big sized and moist figs – one fig was eaten as per quality control(!) before the jamming process. I needed to do that, right? 🙂 )
  • Remove the stalks, boil water, and soak the figs in water for 40 min, close the lid of the container to keep the heat in
  • Strain and drain the excess water (this is a delicious liquid, which I have drank without any reservation 🙂 ) 
  • Dice thinly – around 8 diced figs make up a cup
  • Toast 1/8 cups of sesame seeds, put aside
  • Put the diced figs in a pot; add 3 cups water, 3 cups white sugar, 1 tsp salt, juice of 1.5 lemon (around 10 tbs), and the sesame seeds
  • Bring to a vigorous boil, close the lid and simmer at low heat for 12 minutes
  • Cool for 10 min with pot’s lid open (to prevent moisture from the lid going into the jam) and put in cleaned jars (wash with soap and hot water; then transfer them into an oven at 220F for 30 min – rings included, except the lids which were air dried and patted down with paper towel)
  • Pour into jars , clean the rims of the jars, close the lids and rings
  • cool down and refrigerate. I believe it is supposed to be consumed in a month or so Alternatively water or pressure can it for longer duration. Jam can also be processed in a blender for a smoother jam. You can add less or more lemon juice – this was slightly sour and it complemented the sweet taste so well 🙂
  • This jam fit into four x 500 ml mason jar
  • Bon appetite!

 

 

 

fast beet pickles

I have got a great recipe from my mom which I am happy to share.

1. Peel the beets (I do that – many people boil beets in their skin, but I do remove them so that I can use the beet-water later) and chop

2. Put beet bits in  boiling water and boil for 15-25 min. I like my pickles kind of crisp and not mushy; but you can adjust the boiling time as short or long as you please

3. Put the beets in jars that are clean and sterilized (I wash them in the dish washer and let the steam work on them. This time I also kept them at oven heated up to 212F (100C)  for 20 min. I treated the rings the same. As per the lids, I only washed them in the dishwasher and then dried with paper towel)

4. Close the lids but do not tighten yet; let cool the beet-water

5. Brine: per 750 ml jar; peel and grate 3 mid-size garlic; add vinegar+beet water (1 in 4 ratio), 2 tbs of sugar and 1 tbs of salt. Mix well

6. Pour down the brine over the beets (around 1 1/3 cup brine/each jar), make sure it covers them. Close tightly and preserve the jars in the fridge or a cool place (mine are always on the kitchen counter; we have a cool climate and my kitchen is heated up to around 17C).

7. These pickles can be enjoyed immediately. Consume within a short time (2-4 weeks).

 

TIPS:

  1. You know beets will create a mess and you will clean and clean and clean, right? So, be careful and gentle while handling it 🙂 I placed a number of towels around to make sure the mess will be contained, yet sill needed to clean my wall. Oh, well. I may be just clumsy (and I am) 🙂
  2. You can increase the ratio of vinegar to water and reduce the sugar; this will help with keeping the pickle longer. I personally love this ratio; it does not smell like vinegar and tastes sweet. Just the way I love it 🙂
  3. Since this pickle is not sterilized like in water baths or pressure canners etc, it is best consumed soon (like within a month). Always keep in the fridge to protect it from getting spoiled. Use sterilized tools and cans to reduce the chance of spoilage.
  4. I found the long beets rather than round ones make better pickles; I think it is easier to cut them and have decent sized bites.
  5. Use fresh beets – cannot believe what a difference it makes! One of my colleagues had brought me a bunch from her farm and the pickle I have made using these beets were the best. I purchased today’s beets from farmers market. Crunchy beets they were – the best 🙂

 

 

today’s sourdough loaves

Because of my trips lately I had depleted my frozen bread stock. I feel a lot better when I have extra loaves at the freezer. Thus, I baked two sourdough today using the same recipe 🙂

They both turned out to be lovely! Thin crust and soft crumb, with a kick of salt and feeling very homey 🙂 The oven spring was way more powerful that I would imagine, as both loaves had sides cracked despite the fact that I had scored their surface 🙂 Something worked really well 🙂

The catch is that I had run out of bread flour, so I had to prepare the dough with all purpose flour. Now, I  never have had a good rise with all purpose flour, even though I am in Canada (people says that Canadian all purpose flour is as good as the bread flour with high protein content…). That is why I thought I would add some oat or rye flakes to dough – my previous experience with these additions is that they make the yeast somehow happier and dough better and airy.

Recipe:

  • I used 1 cup of rolled rye flakes soaked for 2 hours in 1 cup of water, which was then topped with 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt, 1 1/3 cups of starter, and I believe 2.5 cups of water.
  • I used the stretch and fold technique to form the dough and left it at room temperature over night to rise.
  • In the morning, I was looking at a puffy and healthy dough 🙂 I cut it into two, one smaller than the other, shaped, rested for 10 min, and then placed them in proving containers. The small one was proven in an oven pot and the other one was formed into a long loaf and placed on a cookie sheet surrounded with items to keep it in shape. I left them at room temperature for 4.5 hours to prove.
  • I scored them and then baked at non-pre-heated oven at 350F for 55 min.

Voila 🙂

resurrected sourdough starter

I managed to revive my sourdough starter from dried flakes! 🙂

The new one is very similar to previous one (that I accidentally used all in a loaf) and has had a great oven spring. Since it will be served to my guests tomorrow, I did not cut it up to see the crumb, but I am sure it is good.

I could not ask for a better one 🙂

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bread with sun flower seeds

While trying to revive my dried sourdough starter, here is the bread I have baked using the commercial yeast.

 

 

Recipe:

1/2 tbs yeast, 1 cup 2% milk, 1 cup water (warm milk and water together first), 2 tbs sugar; mix well and activate the yeast for 10 min (cover the bowl)

add 3 tbs salt, 9 cups of bread flour, mix and form a dough

cover and stretch and fold 3-4 times (around 20-30 min rest in between)

rest at fridge over night

in the morning. take the dough out and bring to room temp ~3 hours

shape the dough and rest 5 min

work on the shape of the dough, and place it in a bowl with clean cloth and sprinkled with generous amount of sun flower seeds

put in a large plastic bag and prove at room temp for 4 hours (in the last 30 min I put it in an oven warmed to 100F)

score and bake at a non-pre-heated oven at 375F for 45 min (oven on) and an additional 15 min (oven off)

take out, sprinkle some water over the loaf, and let cool down

Bon appetite!

 

PS: since  this loaf is going to a friend of mine, I did not cut it out and hence I have no idea how the crumb is. But the oven spring was amazing and the fact that the loaf kept its round shape, I am hopeful that the crumb too is good 🙂

sourdough loaf with black olive, parsley, and kefir

I wanted to bake a sourdough that was not tried before and I think I managed to do so.

I present you the sourdough loaf with kefir, parsley, and black olive 🙂

Smells like sea! Enjoy!

 

 

sourdough bread with beet

Here we go – the most interesting sourdough loaf I have ever baked!

What do you think?

I had seen a recipe here at wordpress once upon a time using beet (thanks whoever had posted it at that time). It always intrigued me and finally this weekend it was the time to give it a try.

My verdict; this is a very easy loaf to work with because wild yeast loves the beet (or anything else like carrots that provide some kind of nutrients and moisture to the dough/bread) and the colour is just amazing! It was a fluffy dough that rose pretty well. The proving step was also short (~5 hours at room temperature in my cool Canadian kitchen) – partly because of the hydration by the beet and partly because I tried to make it kind of sticky with less flour than usual. The crumb is open (one of the best, if not the best crumb I have seen lately) and it is soft and palatable. The only thing was that the smell of raw/baked beet somehow threw me away at the beginning. But the remedy is easy and available – butter, as usual, makes it perfect! 🙂

This being said, I think next time I will try it with raspberry and some more sugar!

 

Recipe

Friday night: took the starter off the fridge and fed with whole wheat flour and water, wrapped in a towel and left at room temperature overnight

Saturday morning: fed the starter again and one hour later divided it into two portion: one portion went to fridge (starter) and the second portion left at room temp for 3 hours to flourish (to be used in the dough)

Saturday afternoon: added to 1 cup of starter, 2 tbs of sugar, and 1 cup of water. Grated 1 medium sized beet and added to the mixture. Then, added 2.5 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt and mixed with a spoon. It formed a shaggy dough. After that I left for shopping, so only 5 hours later or so, I stretched and folded it once or twice before leaving it to rise at room temperature overnight (closed lid and covered with a towel)

Sunday morning: shaped on a generously floured work surface, let rest for 10 min and shaped again. I decided it was better if I proved it in an oven dish and directly baked it after proving. Hence, I placed the dough in the dish covered with parchment paper and put it in a nylon bag – that, I found a while ago, creates a green house effect and help dough prove faster

Sunday afternoon: After 5 hours of proving, turned the oven on (375F) and placed the dough in it. Baked for 45 min with oven on and then an additional 15 min with oven turned off.

Do not forget to cool down, admire, and enjoy it with butter and loved ones!  

Bon appetite 🙂

 

 

 

today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

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Here is my baby today 🙂

This loaf is similar to others in making, only with an additional 2 tbs water to make it slightly sticky. During stretching and folding, the dough formed well and the stickiness has almost disappeared. I also did not add sugar to dough for the first time.

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proofing 🙂
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after the proofing step
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this scoring worked well 🙂
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and the end product 🙂 what a beauty! I am very pleased with the oven spring.

 

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And, finally I am consuming the wild rice that I have had for some years!!!

I totally improvised this soup:

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  • Add in a pot 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup red lentil, 1 small potato, 100 grms of butter, and 3 cups water
  • Boil and then simmer for 1 hour, or until rice softens

This is a very creamy and hearty soup because of the lentil and potato, and has a mixture of both soft and somewhat crunchy texture (the wild rice has a tough outer membrane)

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

carrot sourdough loaf

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I am excited to write this recipe 🙂

It gives a strong, slightly sticky dough that forms a great crust and very soft crumb (the softest I have seen in a sourdough). The carrots, I believe, help with the moist crumb and with a fairly good rise. I also believe that yeast loves the carrot (or carrot juice coming out of the grated pieces). In anyway, I suggest you give this loaf a try and see how you like it 🙂

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Recipe:

1. Grate 4 mid-size carrots

2. Add 1.5 cups of sourdough levain to carrots (I fed 2/3 cups fridge-stored starter with 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup+1 tbs water and let rest over-night at room temperature. In the morning it was risen and bubbly. I fed it again two hours before I prepared the dough)

3. Add 1 cup water, 4 cups bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt. Mix by hand or using utensils.

4. Leave at room temperature (covered) to rise: I had a social to attend, so left it for 4 hours and stretched and folded it twice in between.

5. Place in the fridge over-night

6. The next morning, take it out and rest at room temperature for around 1 hour

7. Shape the dough (I formed a baton today), cover with kitchen towel, and let rise for 1.5 hours

8. The last 20 min; pre-heat the oven and the roaster (if you are using one) to 375 F. Flip the loaf upside down on parchment paper

9. Score the surface, and bake in the roaster; 35 min closed lid and 25 min open lid. Turn off the oven and leave the loaf in the roaster/oven for an additional 1 hour (since this is a moist loaf, I found that this step helps with baking inside the loaf)

Enjoy 🙂

what is a Sunday without a sourdough bread?

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does it not look awesome 🙂 I LOVE oven-spring 🙂 since I started using a roaster to bake my loafs in, the majority of the time I was able to observe a significant level of rising. I get excited each time I see it 🙂

I tried one sourdough recipe with semolina flour this time. I was worried because it did not rise as much, but the oven spring was there as well as the air bubbles in the loaf 🙂

It contained 1 cup of levain prepared from my Monster sourdough starter, 1 cup of semolina flour, 1.5 cup of bread flour, and 1 cup of water and salt as desired. Minimal kneading at first; 6 stretch and fold every 30 min or so; and resting at the fridge overnight. The next day, I left it at room temperature for 2 hours; shaped, and proofed for 1 hour 15 min; baked at a preheated oven (at 400F) in a roaster (25 min closed lid and 25 min open lid).

Taste is somehow unusual, but the crust was rich and crumb was soft and quite palatable.

As usual, immediately enjoyed with the butter 🙂

banana and hazelnut loaf

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While I love observing yeast and dough rise, collapse, and form bread, sometimes I am in love with the baking powder, too.

Why?

Because it gives quick results, like tea biscuits or fruit/nut loafs. After all, I am a lazy chef 🙂

I tried hazelnut and banana loaf today; totally improvised and totally worth it 🙂

——————–

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnut (dried and not crushed; you can replace it with walnut or other nuts/seeds)
  • 2 banana; thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter; cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt (optional; I kind of like the contrast sugar and salt make)
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

 

Procedure:

  • Add sugar, banana, cinnamon, hazelnut, and salt in a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, whisk an egg; add the milk, butter, and flour and form a batter by mixing
  • Mix all together and pour in an oven dish brushed with vegetable oil
  • Bake at 375 F for 35 min
  • Do not forget to enjoy 🙂

mystical sourdough bread

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And the final product 🙂 (where is the score cuts?) Looks like the dough has risen (oven spring 🙂 ) and created “stretch marks” over the surface. I t is also almost doubled in size due to oven spring (use a roaster/dutch oven, my friends – it really does help)

This sourdough bread is mystical because I cannot remember how much water I added to the dough 🙂

Argh… Murphy’s law – this is a wonderful loaf and it would be awesome to replicate it in the future. Anyways, at least I remember how the initial dough felt; shaggy but not runny. Good…

This is my second sour dough bread trial using my Monster sourdough starter. The first one last week ended up being something beyond brick….. Something even stronger… Like steel or something….

This time, it is better. The crust was definitely chewy and inside was very soft. It could use more salt next time. By the way, with this loaf I started to believe in “oven spring”; this dough has doubled in size  while in the oven. I could not be more enchanted right now 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

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Recipe

Day 1.

Levain: Activate the starter by feeding a night before and resting at room temperature over-night.

For this purpose, I mixed 1/2 cup of starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Then, I transferred it in a clean jar, secured the lid with a clean kitchen towel and elastic band, and forgot till next morning.

*well… that is not true – I checked it many times during the night. Seeing it rising was magical 🙂 After all, I just had transferred it to fridge last week and this was the first time I tried to revive it back at room temperature 🙂

**basically, the starter I used for this levain is the portion of the starter that I am supposed to throw away while feeding the starter every week. Making no waste feels good 🙂

***it makes a stiff, not runny, levain

It must have at least doubled in size and have bubbles around the jar, indicating an active, robust starter.

 

Day 2.

Dough:

1. Mix 1 cup of levain with 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add 2 cups of bread flour and just enough water to make a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover and rest at room temperature for 4 hours

*the autolyse step is supposed to hydrate the flour and help develop gluten. At the end of this period, the dough should look a little bit swollen and possibly flattened out

2. Add 2 tps of salt and 2 tps of sugar to dough while still in the container and mix

3. Spread 1/3 cup of flour on a clean surface and place the dough on. Knead for 2-3 minutes lightly and add flour as needed.

*The dough should be fluffy, somewhat sticky but not too sticky

4. Place the dough in a clean container that has been brushed with vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over. Cover and let rest for 30 min

*vegetable oil helps with preventing the dehydration of the dough. i somehow feel like it also helps with the dough structure, but I have no convincing evidence for this yet (many people say that vegetable oil actually reduces the rising capacity)

5. Stretch and fold 4-5 times and let rest for 30 min covered

*this technique is supposed to be a good alternative to kneading. If you do not have a dough mixer or a bread machine and are using your hands to knead, you may want to give it a try

6. Stretch and fold for a total of 4 times and then rest the dough for a final 30 min

*I perform all these steps while the dough is still in the container with the help of a bench cutter

**by the way I use a large pot to mix the dough and for the fermentation/first rise. It is a very practical alternative. Just close the lid and cover with a blanket/thick towel or place in a warm place, like a warm oven, for the fermentation step

*** you will notice that the dough slightly rises/gets fluffier and develops some structure with each stretch and fold. 

7. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface, spread with the help of your hands, and then fold over and shape. I made a round loaf. Cover and let rest there for 10 min.

8. Proofing: I used a bowl covered with a clean white fabric that had around 1 tbs of flour sprinkled to prevent the dough from sicking to it. I covered the dough and let proof for an hour

*they say sourdough does not rise as much as the commercial yeast, which in my experience was the case as well

9. 20 min before the end of the proofing step, pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place your roaster/dutch oven in

*I recently became a fan of using roasters to bake the bread. It provides good heat conductance and shortens the baking time. They say dutch ovens are even better. I bought a turkey roaster which is quite big. The advantage of it is that I can bake loafs with any shape; e.g. baton or boule. Not sure whether I can do this with a dutch oven – they usually looks small and suitable for boule only

10. Transfer the dough upside down on a parchment paper, score with sharp knife (around half an inch), and immediately place into the heated roaster

*dough was leveled down as soon as I scored it, which discouraged me. yet, the spring oven surprised me; the end product had risen and formed a lovely bread

11. Bake 30 min covered, and then an additional 20 min uncovered at 400 F

12. 🙂

🙂

 

 

 

 

left-over bread with poppy seeds

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air bubbles 🙂 (baton-shaped loaf)

I try to bake every weekend to quench my interest in yeast and its activities, and to consume.

This week, I had planned a “left-over” bread that included the left-over green olives (they have been in my fridge for some time now) and the piece of the sourdough starter I was supposed to throw away yesterday (my starter was on its 5th day yesterday and quite a monster, I must say). Since I was inspired by a blog (which, sadly I cannot remember now), I also added poppy seeds to dough.

It was a dough that rested at the fridge over-night (I prefer this kind of dough – in my opinion it makes better breads).

Overall, the green olives were not enough and kind of got lost during the kneading/stretch and fold attempts. I do not know what to think about this now… Poppy seeds are okay and not overwhelmed the taste, which is pleasing. The dough had a slight sour taste – I am almost sure that it was not because of the starter but the olives, but I may as well be wrong. Crust was crispy while inside was soft and tasty.

I also experimented with the roaster I purchased a while ago to see whether baking bread in a container like roaster really makes a difference. I prepared two loaves from the same dough and baked one in a baking dish without a cover and another one in the roaster at the same time. In fact it does; the crust of the roaster-baked loaf was more browned and better looking. I may as well continue to bake breads in the roaster.

I seem to have shallow scoring cuts on the loafs. I will remember to make deeper cuts next time.

On a final note, parchment paper seems to be a baker’s best friend. If you do not have a roll, you may consider having one. It keeps everything clean and helps with not using vegetable oil, spray, or cornmeal that we would otherwise use in the oven dishes while baking.

Recipe

1. Activate 1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast in 1.5 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar by mixing all and resting at room temperature for 15 min (cover the bowl).

*Note that the amount of dry yeast is really low. I find that dough that rests at the fridge does not need a lot of yeast

2. When the yeast is activated, add 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, 2 cups of bread flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix with spoon or hand and let rest at room temperature for 20 (the autolyse step)

3. Add 1/3 cup of green olives (you should add more if you are looking for an olive loaf), 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoon of poppy seeds and knead on a clean, flour sprinkled surface for a couple of minutes to make sure the ingredients all mix.

4. take the dough in a clean, vegetable oil spread bowl (i use a pot) and let rest at room temperature for 30 min. After that do stretch-and-fold for a total of 4 times, each time with 30 min rest in between.

*this technique is supposed to eliminate the need for kneading and develop the gluten structure equally. Basically hold a corner of the dough, stretch it as far as you can and then fold it over the dough. repeat this with other corners of the dough (4-6). Turn the dough over so that the folded part lies at the bottom

**my experience with kneading is pretty conflicting. I cannot knead even though I know it would make my bread structure better. So I failed in today’s attempt too as the dough did not become a mature, elastic dough. That is why I decided to stretch-and-fold

***you will notice that over-time the dough becomes fluffy but not necessarily overly risen

5. Put in the fridge over-night. I left the dough in the fridge for a total of 12 hours and then let rest at room temperature for 2 hours

6. Take the dough out and spread over flour-sprinkled surface, degassing at the same time. Cut into two loafs, shape, and let rest on the bench for 15 min (covered)

*since the dough is not sticky, there is no need to add more flour than required

7. Re-shape if needed, cover, and proof for 1 hour 45 min at room temperature. I used a bowl to proof the round loaf and a cookie sheet for the baton/francala. Cover the loafs so that they will not dehdyrate and keep warm.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (keep the roaster inside too). When the proofing is done, transfer the loafs in the oven dish (I used this for the round loaf with parchment paper at the bottom) and the pre-heated roaster.

9. Score the top of the loaf and bake for a total of 50 min; after the first 25t minute take the lid off the roaster.

 

my “Monster” sourdough starter

5th day-before the feed-3
5th day – right before the feed. Isn’t it  a beauty 🙂

My 4th attempt in sour dough starter seems to be the best so far 🙂

The Monster started to smell sour this morning and has been rising incredibly, especially after the feed today. 4 hours after the feeding today, I had to transfer it to a new, bigger jar as it had risen up to the lid and was ready to escape! :).

I could not be more excited! I hope that is what it is and it is really a sourdough starter, but not some weird micro-organismal activity.

—————————–

Here is the chronicle of Monster:

Day 1.

Procedure: Mix in a bowl 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup filtered water with the help of a fork. Transfer into a clean jar, cover top with a piece of fabric (clean and thin enough to allow air in/out), secure the fabric with the help of an elastic band around the lid, wrap the jar with a small towel (keep the lid part uncovered by the towel), place in a shelf away from the kitchen.

*There is no need to keep the starter away from the kitchen. I just have had pest problems lately, which prompted me to keep the starter away from their active areas.

**I started the starter in the evening around 6.30 pm. I tried to feed it everyday at around the same time.

***I decided to wrap the jar with a towel because I live in a relatively cold climate.

Day 2.

Observations: no apparent rise, a few tinny bubbles, smells like whole wheat – nothing exciting.

Procedure: Mix the starter with the help of a fork; take it out in a bowl and add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of water. Mix all well with the help of a fork. Cover, wrap, and rest the jar/starter at its usual place.

*I made a mistake here. I was planning to add the same amount of flour and water as Day 1 but somehow got confused and ended up with smaller amounts added.

2nd day-after the feed
Day 2 – after the feed

Day 3.

Observations: There was a slight rise, a few large bubbles, somewhat unevenly elated surface, and no distinct smell. There was liquid accumulated at the bottom of the jar.

*slight rise was promising 🙂

Procedure: Remove 1 cup starter. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and mix well with fork. Add the remaining starter and mix everything. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap, and rest as before.

3rd day - after the feed-1
day 3 – right after the feed

Day 4.

Observations: There is ~0.5 cm rise in the starter – first measurable rise so far. There was no distinct smell and little, if ever, bubbles.

*I decided to take less starter out today, considering the fact that it was not flourishing. So I reduced it by 3/4 cup, rather than 1 cup.

**I forgot to take a photo before the feed today.

Procedure: Remove 3/4 cup starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*from today on, the starter become a less runny/batter-like. I prefer this kind of starters – my feeling is that it helps the yeast flourish better.

**I removed a smaller amount of starter today, as the remaining amount did not look enough to me.

4th day-after the feed-2
Day 4-after the feed

Day 5.

Observations: When I checked it in the morning (yes, I have a habit of checking the starter 6-7 times a day – it is very exciting! 🙂 ), it had risen 2.5 x of its original height 🙂 It also smelled sour for the first time and there were many small bubbles and a slightly uneven surface.

In the evening, it had collapsed a little bit ( I think that is because had exhausted itself – definitely it is the time to feed.)

Procedure: Take 1/2 cup of starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*I removed less starter today compared to previous days. I kind of improvise. Many people use standard measures/amounts and follow them every day, but I like to adjust things as they develop. 

**I noticed that the starter does not have a smooth texture; it must be the particles in whole wheat flour that give it rather a crumby look.

5th day-after the feed-1
5th day – right after the feed. Excuse the mess around the jar 🙂

Additional observations the same day (day 5): 

2 hours after the feed: The starter had doubled in size. The best activity so far. No distinct sour smell yet.

3 hours after the feed: The starter reached the lid! Now knowing what to do, I decided to try to mix it well with a fork  and hope that it would not rise till morning. No distinct sour smell yet. Forking caused the starter to go back to its size right after the feed.

4 hours after the feed: I was being naive – even I mixed it and it went down to its original size, the Monster did rise and reach the lid again in an hour.

Time to change the jar. I mixed the starter well with a fork, and transferred all of it into a larger jar. Repeated the usual step; cover, wrap, and rest, as before.

5th day-after the feed-post 4 hours -3-changed the jar
5th day – 4 hours after the feed. Transferred it to a new, larger jar

5 hours after the feed and 1 hour after moved to a bigger jar: the Monster has doubled in size. Unfortunate that I could not take a picture (battery was charging). It is such a Monster!

6 hours after the feed and 2 hours after moved to a bigger jar: boy, the Monster is at work – it has risen so much 🙂

I cannot wait to see it tomorrow!

 

Day 6 (added after the post)

Observations at noon: At noon, the starter had collapsed. It smells slightly sour and seeing bubbles were very pleasing. I decided to feed it and use the left-over starter to prepare a levain for sourdough bread.

*This is the only day that I fed the starter twice – one at noon and one at evening (its regular feed time)

Procedure for first feed of the day: Mix well with a fork. I took out 2/3 cups of the starter to prepare the levain. To feed the remaining starter, in a bowl add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter, mix well with a fork, and transfer back to the jar. Cover, wrap, and rest at room temperature for an additional 6 hours.

Observations prior to the second feed of the day: Six hours after the new feed, the starter had doubled and had nice bubbles. The slight sour smell was there, too. The texture is pretty stiff (i.e. not runny at all, which I kind of like).

 *At that point, I decided it was time that I put it in the fridge for future use.

Procedure: Take 1 cup of starter and add 2/3 cups whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, mix well, and transfer into a new jar and cover with a piece of cloth. Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to placing into the fridge.

6th day-after the feed-before goin into the fridge
right before putting in the fridge, still bubbly 🙂

Observation -3 hours after the fridge: I was right naming this starter “Monster”. Can you believe that this starter is continuing to rise in the fridge???

I love my Monster 🙂


A couple of thoughts.

This was so far the most robust starter.

I am thinking a couple of things may have contributed to it:

  1. whole wheat flour (rather than all purpose flour I had used in the earlier starters)
  2. mixing the starter together with the fresh flour and water in a bowl (i.e. not in the jar). Not sure whether aeration (i.e. getting out of the jar) helps the starter/yeast somehow.
  3. I also used fork rather than the spoon to mix the flour/water/starter – fork may be doing a better job than the spoon. Maybe, again in terms of aeration.
  4. I am almost sure, even though I have no evidence for this, stiffer starters (not runny) rise faster.
  5. Pure luck? 🙂

today’s bread

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My quest to be able to bake the prefect bread continues 🙂

Over-night dough is becoming my favorite. It rises well, consistently makes better breads, and it fits my schedule better. This loaf too is a product of an over-night dough.

Recipe:

1. Add 300 ml warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and 0.5 table spoon of dry yeast together; cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 min.

*I use less yeast for over-night dough. Previously I figured that this amount is more than enough to have a well risen dough. Yet, next time I will increase this amount to see whether I can get a better structured bread with air-holes in it.

**The yeast usually move up to the surface of the mixture and starts metabolizing and foaming on top. In this recipe, there is more water than the yeast can cover, so the foamy top may not fully cover the surface of the bowl – do not despair; it still works.

IMG_9239
activated yeast; all foamy and lovely.

2. Add to yeast mixture 3.5 cups of all purpose flour and stir with a spoon till it forms a shaggy mixture. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 min.

***This step is supposed to help hydrate the dough and start gluten development (i.e. the autolyse step).

3. Knead for 10 min or so until the dough becomes elastic and strong, or if you are like me, stretch and fold every 20-30 min and let rise for a total of 2 hours at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel (since it is summer, I do not need to use a warm oven this time.). I failed my stretch and fold attempt with this dough – for some reason. I wished I had kneaded it 🙂

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right before placing in the fridge, my dough looked a little bit unhappy after all the stretching and folding trials. Perhaps I should have left it all alone – I am sure it would look better than this 🙂

4. Cover and place in the fridge. I kept it there around 14 hours. While yeast works better at warm temperatures, it nevertheless slowly continues to strive while in the fridge. The next morning, you should have a fluffy dough looking at you 🙂

IMG_9249
there has been a lovely rise in the fridge

5. When you are ready to work on the dough, take it out and rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. I left mine for 2 hours while I went out for shopping. Upon my return, when I opened the cover, there was a large bubble in the middle. Well, hello you little miraculous yeasties 🙂

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hello yeasties!

6. Mix 1 table spoon of salt with 1 table spoon of water and add to the dough. Take the dough on flour-sprinkled bench, which will deflate the dough (i.e. no need to punch). Lightly work on the dough to shape and let rest on the bench for 10-15 min (covered).

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7. For proofing, I used a metal basket and a piece of clean clothe sprinkled with flour. I placed the dough upside down (where the seam is; make sure to close them by pinching the dough. Mine below was quite stubborn 🙂 ), cover lightly, and place either in a large nylon bag (works like a green house) or a warm oven (warmed to 100 F) for an hour, or until it rises again.

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8. To transfer the loaf into the oven, I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the loaf, placed the cookie sheet on top of it, and then turned the entire assembly upside down. Cover and let rest for 10 min.

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****I read somewhere yesterday that whenever we “poke” the dough, we must let it rest for 10 min or so. So, for the first time today, I rested the loaf on the parchment paper covered with a kitchen towel. It does make sense to me as there has been some additional rise at the end of this rest 🙂

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the rest after the transfer to bake-ware made a difference – the loaf risen considerably. I am happy 🙂

9. At this point, pre-heat the oven for 400 F.

10. Pet the dough with wet hands and sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface. Score with a sharp knife and bake the loaf in the oven for 40 min.

11. When 40 min is over, turn the oven off and let the loaf sit there for an additional 10 min.

12. I took out the loaf and applied solid butter on the surface. I also sprinkled with generous amount of water to keep it moist, covered it with a kitchen towel till it cooled down, and cut the bread 10 min after I took it out of the oven.

13. Do not forget to enjoy the bread 🙂 I did with a nice chunk of butter. The bread was soft inside and pretty tasty. I just wished I had more air-packets. Next time 🙂

 

bread for the kind neighbours :)

I mentioned earlier that one of my neighbours has left me 4 pots of yard plants a couple of days ago, after an initial talk with her late May.

I saw her today and told her that I was baking a loaf of bread for her 🙂 I just left the loaf in her mail box. Hope she will enjoy.

This is another trial for a dough which is left at the fridge over night. I wish I could see the inside of the loaf I baked today so that I would know how the crumb was. But my overall impression is that it makes great bread with lots of rise and smell, even though the amount of yeast in the recipe is less than usual 🙂 I think this kind of dough also helps me with my busy schedule. So it is my favorite so far 🙂

*While in the fridge, I stretched and folded it a few times only out of curiosity – I do not  think it is required.

**I think the dough would take another 1/2 cup of flour – well, next time 🙂

——————————————————————–

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 dessert spoon of sugar together, mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Cover and rest for 15 min.

The yeast was crazy good with a nice foam on top. I think the temperature of the water was just right 🙂

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2. Add  2.5 cups of all purpose flour to yeast and mix well with a spoon. My dough was sticky but not “batter-like” like last time. Cover the container and rest the dough at room temperature for 25 min.

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3. Stretch and fold 6-8 times and place into a clean bowl covered with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over.

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4. After 60 min, there was a noticeable rise in the dough and there were bubbles 🙂 Stretch and fold a couple of times. The dough is elastic, and not stiff and not like batter, either. That is pretty good 🙂

after 60 min, this is how it looked like. rested 🙂
stretched and folded a couple of times – time to rest in the fridge now 🙂

5. After another hour of resting in the fridge, the dough has kept its shape, is strong and very elastic, not batter-like at all, and there are some bubbles in it.

Stretching and folding was easy – basically held a corner of the dough and let it hang for a second or two, and repeated this 5-6 corners each side of the dough.

Dough is 100% coherent (i.e. did not break or left pieces around the container).

Because of the oil, it is shinny and I kind of believe that oil helps keep inside humid but may also make it have some kind of stiffness/strength, which is not necessarily bad. I also think that oil helps with the crust somehow.. Gut feeling:)

after stretching and folding – back to fridge now 🙂

6.  after the 4th hour at the fridge, dough did rise just a little bit but feels soft and fluffy 🙂 It was exciting 🙂 Stretch and fold was very easy and this time the dough stretched quite a bit. There is a noticeable softness in the dough and 4-5 large bubbles were visible. Happy 🙂 I did not necessarily formed a nice looking ball this time; hope that will be okay 🙂

after 4 hours at the fridge, this is how the dough looked.
after stretch and fold

 

7. After 18 hours of fridge rest (in the morning), dough has risen and looks fluffy. No stretch and fold this time – I gotta catch the bus 🙂

8.  After 21 hours of fridge rest, it looks good.. I added 1 1/3 dessert spoon of salt, stretched and folded and also worked with my hands to have salt integrated. Left at room temperature for 2 hours covered.

 

prior to handling it 🙂

 

after I worked on it a little bit 🙂 the bubbles are gone and it looks good and shinny 🙂

9. At the end of the room temperature rest, dough looked fluffy and gas bubbles were detectable. It was a little bit sticky, but on a floured surface I did 4-5 stretch and fold and tried to form surface tension. The surface of the loaf does not look uniform but that should be okay. Bench rest for 10 min covered with a cling film.

10. I am finally at the proofing stage. I placed the loaf in an oven dish covered in a little amount of vegetable oil, covered with a pot lid, placed in a large shopping bag, and proved for 1 hour at an oven warmed to 100 F. I also left the oven lights on – it increases the temperature to around 123 F. that seems to work for me.

IMG_8666
beginning of the proofing stage

11. At the end of proofing, dough looks good and risen. Looks a little bit too juicy :))) Next time I can increase the amount of flour.

I applied whole egg wash carefully and sprinkled the top with sesame seeds and scored. Baking at oven at 375 F (turned on the oven and put the dough in immediately – not pre-heated oven) with 2 cups of hot water in the lower shelf. At 45 min, I sprinkled the surface of the bread with a generous amount of water. Total time in the oven: 1 hour 30 min

at the end of the proofing stage 🙂
I was not sure whether it was over or under proved. So I tried the “poke” test. I am still not sure what the answer is – help! 🙂

12. After I took it out, I applied solid butter on the crust, let rest for 10 min, and then took it out to my neighbours!:) (she was not there, but at least I tried 🙂 – hope she will remember our conversation earlier this noon and will not be surprised to find the bread in her mail box 🙂

the crust formed really well. I would love to see the crumb, but I could not cut the loaf. I guess my neighbour will have a better idea about it.

IMG_8680IMG_8678

 

 

how to bake the perfect bread?

Well; the best way to learn how to bake the perfect loaf is learning through trial and error.

This is the best way for me. No matter how many books or blogs I read, my own experiences with baking bread are the best teachers for me.

More than that, I am an experimenter. I would love to follow recipes, but to tell you the truth, I like improvising better; observing the thickness of the dough, the rise of the dough, the oven-spring of the loaf, the crust, taste, and crumb, and all the conditions (warmth while rising/proofing, minutes/hours of waits/rise/baking, amount of ingredients, etc.). And then coming up with conclusions to bake a better bread next time. That is priceless 🙂

So, last week I decided to try an over-night dough recipe – I have got the idea from internet (there are many useful sites out there). They say that while the fridge will slow down the activity of the yeast, the long fermentation (in the fridge) does enrich the taste of the bread. Intrigued, I decided to go for it 🙂

I must say it has been a great learning experience:

  • Now I know how to handle a very sticky/batter like dough better
  • Now I know that over-night fermentation of the dough is okay and, as they said, may even be better for the texture of the bread
  • Now I know that the sticky/high-hydration dough should not be proofed/baked on cookie sheets – loaf pans/oven dishes that support the dough are a lot better (they support the dough and prevent from spreading/expanding to the sides to form a rather flat-type of loaf that I observed with my trial today.)
  • Now I know that proofing may be extended to 1.5 hours (rather than 1 hour), which yielded a better rise for this dough today
  • Now I know that I will try some other varieties (e.g. with olives) using this dough some other time. The most bubbles I have ever seen in a dough 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

This dough could have been a great flat bread or a pizza dough; crunchy outside, soft and crumby inside – highly recommended 🙂

1. warm 100 ml water and mix with 1 dessert spoon of sugar; mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of yeast – let stand for 15 min. Yeast will start smelling but not necessarily form a foam (only because its quantity is less than regular yeast mixtures. For a same-day bread, I would have used a full dessert spoon of dry yeast)

2. add 2 cups of flour, 75 ml of water, and the yeast mixture – make a very sticky dough (almost like a batter).

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3. let rest for 35 min at room temperature (cover the bowl with a kitchen towel)

4. use a dough cutter (or your hands) and stretch and fold it onto itself (repeat for 3-4 min – the dough will be still sticky). This is supposed to help the gluten form and give a structure to the dough. Note the absence of kneading in this recipe.

5. grease a large pot/bowl (with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil) and put the dough in. Stretch and fold again to make sure it gets oil all over. Close the lid of the pot or cover it with cling film.

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6. keep it in the fridge overnight.

7. the next morning (after 19 hours in the fridge): the dough/batter looks healthy and flattened itself out. It smells great:) There are noticeable bubbles in it.

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8. add 1 table spoon of salt and stretch and fold 7-8 times. Transfer into a clean pot sprinkled with flour. The dough is coherent and sticky, and prior to the stretch and fold there were large bubbles in it:) (they are removed during the stretch and fold procedure). Sprinkle flour on top, close the lid of the pot, place over a kitchen towel and rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours (to help it reach the room temperature)

9. transfer the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour, stretch and fold a couple of times, and form a baton shaped loaf. You may flour the hands and the surface as required, but do not be tempted to add too much flour.

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bubbles 🙂

10. bench rest for 10 min (covered)

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after 10 min of bench rest – the loaf certainly does not keep its shape and has a tendency to flatten…

11. Place the dough in an oven dish sprinkled with a generous amount of cornmeal, [if using cookie sheet like myself; support the loaf on both sides by stretch film-covered long boxes (stretch films better be greased). I would rather recommend using a deep oven dish for this dough if you are aiming for a tall bread…], place everything in a big shopping bag, loosely tie the bag, and put it in a warm oven (warmed to 100 F with lights on), and proof for 1.5 hour.

 

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this is how the dough looked like after 1 hour of proofing

12. Apply whole egg wash gently without deflating the dough, sprinkle with generous amount of sesame seeds, and score the surface. Remove the supports from the sheet

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this is how it looked right before I put it in the oven. when the supports on both sides are removed, naturally it expanded to the sides. I guess this will be one nice flat bread! 🙂

13. Place 2 cups of boiling water in an oven-safe dish and place in the lower shelf. Bake for 35 min (375F the first 15 min, and then 400 F)

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the best crumb ever!

 

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

plain bread – a success story

My next door neighbours are great people. She brought me some hand-made clothes; she said she loves knitting them and they are very useful. I was touched and decided to take advantage of being home early and bake a loaf of bread or two for them.

I am still not confident about baking bread. But it is a lot of fun! So, I decided to experiment to bake a loaf that can taste and look good. I prepared one dough and prepared 2 small loafs; one round, one baton (aka “francala”) shaped. The baton bread went to my neighbour and I kept the round one.

The crust of the round loaf was amazing (and crunch), so was the taste! I did not have large holes in the round bread but I hope there were some in the baton  – it rose better than the round loaf:)

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“baton bread” that I gave to my neighbour. This little beast looked amazing and I hope it tasted so, too 🙂
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this loaf is mine – I loved it 🙂

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Warm up 200 ml of water and add 1 dessert spoon of sugar – mix well until all sugar dissolves. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Do NOT mix yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

2. Add the yeast mixture to 3 cups of all purpose flour. Add 2/3 cups (150 ml) of water and mix with spoon or with your hands until it forms a somewhat sticky but coherent dough.

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right before the autolyse step – smelling nice and yeasty 🙂

3. Cover the top of the container (I used a pot and its lid for this purpose), wrap with a kitchen towel and rest for 20 min to autolyse at room temperature.

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right after the 20 min autolyse step. The dough is a little bit sticky (just like I wanted it), looks plumpy and risen a little bit. Looks pretty rested to me 🙂

4. Add 1 table spoon of salt and lightly knead the dough while still in the container (no flour is needed at this step as I aim it to be a soft and not a hearty bread). I noticed that dough become “fragmented” as soon as salt is added – but do not worry; it fixes itself during the process. Work on the dough and give it a round shape.

5. Add 1 table spoon of vegetable oil to a clean pot, spread it around, and put the dough in; then flip the dough over to make sure it gets oil on both sides  (top and bottom). Close the lid and put in an oven warmed up to 100 F (I covered the pot with also a kitchen towel).

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ready to rest and rise 🙂 I noticed that as soon as salt is added, the dough lost its structure and get “fragmented”. I am hoping this will fix during the rise

6. Let rise for 30 min and then stretch and fold 4-5 times and then turn the dough upside down and repeat stretching and folding. Let it rise in the warm oven for another 30 min and stretch and fold again. Put the dough back in the oven and let rise for an additional 30 min.

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at the end of 1st 30 min of rise – the dough has risen and conserved its plumpy and sticky nature. I could see the bubbles when I took it out of the warm oven, which is pleasing. The oil seems to help dough keep its moisture – but I wonder whether I applied too much oil. Something to think about. As long as it does not affect the taste, I am okay with this – in my experience the dough with a little bit oil in or around it rises pretty quickly.
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after stretch and fold at the end of the 30 min rise. Dough has lost some of its plumpiness but I am certain it will continue to rise 🙂
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after the 2nd 30 min rise – dough looks good and moist (because of the vegetable oil I used to cover the container). Folding and stretching was not particularly easy as if pulled a lot, the dough breaks. Not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. the final product will tell 🙂
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right after the 2nd stretch and fold. let it rest and rise for one last time 🙂
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at the end of the 3rd 30 min rise – looking good 🙂

 

7. Cut the dough into two (only because I wanted to have two small loafs) on a flour-sprinkled surface. Try not to add more flour and gently shape. Gently press down the bubbles (I had some). Shape, cover with a bowl or kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

 

 

8. Gently shape again and put in floured dishes for proofing upside-down. Sprinkle some flour on top, wrap loosely with cling film, and cover with a thick blanket on stove (I slightly warmed up the stove to help provide some warmth to dough). Let proof for 45 min

 

9. Apply egg wash – that is, whisk one egg and brush over the loafs. On one of them I also added sesame seeds. Score carefully using a sharp knife. Place in oven dishes sprinkled with corn meal.

 

11. boil 1.5 cups of water and place in the lower shelf of the oven in an oven-safe dish (to provide humidity during the bake)

10. bake at a pre-heated oven (400 F) for 45 min. At 30 min I took them out and sprinkled a generous amount of water on top. The round one needed to bake an additional 5 min (its bottom did not get brownish at 45 min)

11. Apply butter on the surface when taken out of the oven and enjoy!

Bon appetite! 🙂

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I cannot see much of a hole in the bread. I guess I needed to rise it a little bit longer. But the recipe is okay and I am excited that I made this beauty! 🙂

 

 

“golden” beef empanada

Today’s baking adventure is beef empanadas 🙂

I called it “golden” because of the turmeric in the dough, which turned it into a perfect golden pastry.

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“golden”, spicy, and delicious 🙂 the colour is mostly because of the generous amount of turmeric I added to the dough.

 

Highly recommended if you like puffy and soft dough with a hearty filling and a kick of spices. By the way, this dough was one of the softest I ever made. I kind of thinking if I had added milk instead of water, it could have been way softer. I like this idea 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

Dough

  1. chill a cup of water in fridge for 30 min
  2. add 3 cups of all purpose flour, 2 table spoon of baking powder, 1 dessert spoon of sugar, 1 dessert spoon of salt (or less depending on how you like salt), 2 dessert spoon of turmeric, and 1 cup of finely cut unsalted butter. Mix well until the butter pieces form small crumbles.
  3. whisk one egg and add to the flour. Add 1 cup of chilled water and form a dough.
  4. cut the dough in small pieces and round up, cover with cling film, and rest in the fridge for 45 min
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I made 4 small dough today. You can see that I am not interested in kneading, yet this recipe does not require a fine dough anyhow (in my opinion). So if you are like me, go ahead and make the dough without much of kneading 🙂

 

Filling

  1. add 2 table spoon of vegetable oil in a pot. Add 2 small onions and 4 garlic (finely chopped). Fry till onions become translucent.
  2. add 1 pound of lean beef and cook till it no longer pink.
  3. add 2 hot peppers (or more) washed and de-seeded
  4. add 1 table spoon of tomato paste, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, 1 pinch of oregano, 1 dessert spoon of turmeric, 1 table spoon of paprika, 1 dessert spoon of cumin, and 1 cup of water. Simmer at medium heat for 30-40 min till all liquid evaporates.
  5. Add two hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped, mix well and put aside.
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garlic and onion 🙂 yum, yum, yum 🙂 next time I will use less garlic as it was at one point all I could smell when I opened the oven to take the empanadas out.
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pepper 🙂 Thus one was hot, which I love. i can use more next time
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after 40 min of simmering, this is how the filling looked. It smelled really good and tasted quite spicy. Excellent treat for winter I would say 🙂
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After simmering and adding the hard-boiled eggs. This is the first time I ever tried adding hard-boiled egg into beef, but it seems to be working fine.

 

Shaping, filling, and baking

  1. On a clean and floured surface, knead the dough for a short time. Then extend the dough using a rolling pin until it reaches the desired thickness.
  2. Cut out the dough using a bowl – set aside. Knead the left-over dough and cut them in a similar way (instead of circle dough pieces, I ended up having triangles at the end, which are more practical if you do not want to waste the dough)
  3. Drain the filling. This IS important – any extra liquid will sure mess the empanadas (I experienced this first-hand today). Put 1-2 table spoon of filling on dough, apply a small amount of water around the dough and fold it over itself. You can also use fork to press on the seams to make sure dough will stick.
  4. Whisk one egg and brush over the empanadas.
  5. Bake at 400 F for 20 min on a cookie sheet.

Enjoy 🙂

 

lentil and celery with eggs

Looking for a way to consume left-over veggies or legumes?

Improvise and make up a meal with eggs – eggs make everything delicious 🙂

I love eggs. I know there is a controversy around consuming eggs and risen cholesterol levels – make your own judgement or listen to your doctor (re; eggs).

As part of my “no food waste” policy, I was looking for a way to use whatever I have in my fridge and my pantry and I decided to come up with an oven dish involving green and red lentils, eggs, and celery.

It turned out to be delicious if you like this kind of food combinations. The celery gave a nice crunchy kick and lentils/bread crumbs formed a soft base. Egg, of course, was the glue that held everything together. It also gave a nice taste to this dish.

If the liquid is drained well, it can also be turned into a “patty”, which can be fried or baked in the oven. I love patties yet today I wanted to see whether I can come up with something less greasy and more healthy.

For variety, replace the celery with fresh herbs.

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Recipe

  1. wash 1/2 cup green lentil and 1 cup red lentil under cold water (the amounts are different only because I have had more red lentils and no more green lentil)
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here they are; the lentils nicely bubbling 🙂

 

2. add 3 cups of water and boil until they become soft and fluffy. Let rest and cool down 15 min

3. add bread crumbs or flour to have a consistent mix. If the liquid is more than 2/3 cup, you can strain the lentils a little bit and directly work on them without needing flour or the crumbs

4. wash and slice 5 sticks of celery and add to lentils. Add salt and a pinch of black pepper

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crunch and chewy – you gotta love celery 🙂

 

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this is the mix of lentils, celery, and bread crumbs. Eggs to be added now 🙂

 

5. add 3 eggs and mix well.

6. Place everything in an oven dish. Spread vegetable oil on the surface and bake at 350F for 50 min

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a hearty and healthy meal with left-over veggies, legumes, and eggs 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

olive and rosemary bread & plain bread

 

 

I decided to make two different types of bread today: One with rosemary leaves and green olive and the other just plain. I so far have not tried plain bread and I would really like it to work out.

Recipe

It started with the same dough, which later was divided into two loafs.

*1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

1. Activating the dry yeast: add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to 1 cup of warm water – mix well with a spoon. Add 1 dessert spoon of yeast, cover with a kitchen towel and wait for 10 min. It should happily bubble and smells gorgeous 🙂

I found that the yeast behave the best if I do not mix them after adding to the water+sugar mix. Any ideas why?

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This is how yeast does it 🙂 bubbly, almost formed a film on top 🙂 Have I mentioned I was amazed by yeast? Yep. I guess I have. But it does not hurt to state it again 🙂

2. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 dessert spoon of salt, and 1 cup of water to the yeast mixture and mix well with the help of a spoon. Through the end I had to use my hand as it was a little bit sticky and I wanted it to get the flour in. After that, cover it with a towel and let rest for 20 min to autolyse.

I covered the container with a thick blanket this week – I am trying to see whether it will be enough to rise the dough. If so, I will stop using a warmed oven to rise my dough. Just trying to be self-sustained 🙂

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Right before the autolysis step. Do not mind the crumbles on top – I did not want to waste any pieces, hence these pieces from the container, which will rest with the rest of the dough 🙂

3. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes. As you go, you will see it will get smoother and also stickier. Add flour as required, but make sure that it does not get too hard. From now on, the first rise will start.

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This is how it looked after kneading. I like taking pictures at each stage because it tells me how much the dough rise 🙂

4. Sprinkle flour on a container and put the dough in (I use the same bowl I used to form the dough). Sprinkle some flour on top as well. Cover and keep warm for two hours.

During this time, I used the blanket again to keep the dough warm. This being said, at one point I thought I could put the dough-container still wrapped with the blanket on stove as I was cooking and it was warmer there (to help rise). Long story short, I ended up having a chunk of blanket melted and stuck on the stove!! It is good that I noticed 🙂 This was the misadventure # 1 for today 🙂

During this step, every 30 min (three times total) I took the dough out and applied the stretch and fold technique. Basically, I assumed the dough had 4 corners. I grabbed a corner of the dough and stretched as far as I could (gently) and then stuck it in back to the dough. I then repeated this with 3 other corners of the dough.

I have the pictures of the dough before each stretch and fold application:

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This is how it looked right before the first stretch & fold (total rise time =30 min). It seems to be rising 🙂
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This is before the 2nd stretch & fold application (total rise = 1 hour). It is getting bigger! Woohoo :))
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Right before the third stretch and fold (total rise = 1.5 hours). This time it does not look like it did rise more than the previous. I am not worried. I am not worried. I am not.. I am… I…. 🙂
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At the end of 2 hours of rise.- not bad is it? 🙂

 

5. Take the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour. The dough was sticky so I added a small amount of flour, lightly mixed it in, and then cut the dough into two.

a) I shaped the plain dough in a francala shape and placed on wax paper and supported on both sides by two long boxes. I then placed the entire stuff in a large nylon bag, loosely tied up the bag, and placed it in an oven warmed to 103 F with lights on.

b) I added the olive and rosemary into the dough. I thought they would mix well but no; they did not – misadventure #2. So I rather placed everything inside the dough and formed a round loaf. I placed this loaf in a bowl upside down that was covered by cling wrap sprinkled with flour. In the absence of shaping baskets, I thought that would work 🙂 I covered it with a towel and placed in the warm oven.

Rise the dough for 1 hour in the warm oven.

 

6. Take the loafs out and re-shape them gently again.

a) The francala had stuck on the wax paper – misadventure #3, so I literally had to drag it onto a cornmeal coated oven dish. Poor thing….

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poor francala – not looking happy 😦

 

b) the olive and rosemary loaf looked good 🙂 I put it on a cornmeal-coated oven dish (upside down).

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Olive and rosemary bread. We cannot see them as they are hiding inside. My bad! 🙂

7) Score the surfaces as you like. I then brushed them with vegetable oil – for the round loaf I also applied it to the sides as it looked like the dough would expand and stick. For a lazy and careless baker, I am proud of myself for coming up with this idea 🙂 I sprinkled the francala with a few sesame and nigella seeds.

8. Heat the oven to 375 F and place some hot water in another contained (to provide steam during the baking – I hope it did work). Place the loafs in and bake for 1 hour. During this period, I sprinkled a generous amount of water on top of both loafs three times.

9. Turn of the oven and apply butter stick on both loafs – it melts as it touches them. Then I left the loafs for an additional 5 min in the oven.

Bon appetite! 🙂

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plain bread – looking happier after the bake 🙂
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enjoy this bread with a nice cup of tea. This is exactly what I am doing right now 🙂
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the scoring was not successful today, yet this is one juicy, soft, and delicious olive and rosemary bread 🙂

 

volcano soda bread with cheddar and parsley

My love for bread-making is continuing 🙂

I was excited the whole week about my next bread trial. I wanted to give the soda bread a try this time. This recipe does not require yeast or wait-times for rising; so if you are looking for a yummy breakfast bread, I would highly recommend this one or any other soda bread.

After the success of the cheddar+parsley combination I tried earlier, I decided to improvise a soda bread with these ingredients. It ended up being quite delicious and softer than I thought it would be. The cheese when melted and together with parsley gave a yummy taste to this soda bread.

Here it is 🙂

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Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of purpose enriched flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 90 gr mild cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 dessert spoon baking soda
  • 1/2 dessert spoon baking powder
  • 1/2 dessert spoon salt (*use much less as the cheese is salty)
  1. Mix everything in a bowl – it will form a rough dough, which is fine
  2. Form a round dough and let it rest for 3-5 minutes
  3. Oil an oven dish and place the dough in
  4. Brush the surface with milk and make a X cut. (**they recommend it to be a little bit deep to help inside to bake well. Unfortunately, I made the cut too deep which caused its wide-open shape – so is the name “volcanic”. )
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven (375 F) for 30 min
  6. After I took it out, I sprinkled water on top to provide some moisture

bon appetite!

 

sunflower seed bread

While I had opted out for baking my next bread using baking powder, my mom encouraged me to try the yeast again.

Later I almost decided not to, but eventually came to my senses (I would have to figure out how to bake nutritious breads with yeast anyhow).

So here is today’s baking adventure 🙂

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Recipe:

1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

Yeast mixture:

Add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to a 1 cup of warm water – stir well. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry active yeast. Do not mix and let it stand for 10 min. It should start bubbling and form a foam on top.

Previously I used to mix the yeast with sugar and water with the help of a spoon, which did not work out well. This time, with this technique, I could see the foam on top, telling that the yeast is  activated 🙂

Dough:

1) Add 1.5 cup of all purpose flour, 1.5 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 dessert spoon of salt, and 3 dessert spoon of olive oil. Mix with a spoon..

2) Add the yeast mixture and mix the dough with spoon until it becomes a rough but coherent dough.

3) Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 min.

I admit that I was trying to do an “autolyse” step, which helps with gluten formation and ease of kneading later. It looks like I did not remember it correctly, though – they say the yeast should NOT be added at that step. But I have.. Should I sigh or be okay with it? 

4) Sprinkle flour on a clean surface to start working on the dough.

The dough was sticky so I needed to use some extra flour to make it non-sticky, soft and smooth.

Knead for 4 minutes.

You will notice that as time goes on, it will become stickier again (I guess kneading helps move water within the dough). Apply little amounts of flour but do not over-saturate the dough.

5) Apply olive oil (or any other type) to the mixing bowl and place the dough in. Add *3/4 cups of sunflower seeds and mix until it becomes a uniform mixture. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and place in an oven with lights on. Let rise for **1.5 hours.

*The amount of seeds looked quite a lot at the beginning… But later turned out to be just right 🙂

**At 45 min, I noticed that the dough was not rising well. This can be mostly because a) it contains whole wheat flour that is difficult to rise, and b) the environment was not warm enough. So I turned on the oven till it reaches 102 F and then turned it off immediately. I let the dough rise for another 45 min (with the towel and the oven lights still on) in this warmer environment.

PS: I guess I should have been more liberal with the oil and cover the entire dough with it (lightly) to prevent dehydration during the rising process. I will do that next time.

6) *Lightly “punch” the dough down to get the gas out of it. Put on a floured surface.

*There should be some rising that has happened and when you punch it down, you should see it returning to its original size. And that is okay 🙂

The dough was sticky and I added a little amount of flour on my hands and the top of the dough.

Gently **stretch and fold for 4-5 times.

**This technique is done while the dough is raising to help with dough formation, but I felt like this can be a good alternative to kneading at this stage. Improvised – good or bad I am not sure. Hey, I am experimenting 🙂